New luminary tour lights up Decatur

Decatur residents opened their homes this past weekend for the annual Decatur Christmas Tour of Homes. Each year the tour is a reminder that Southern hospitality is alive and well, as people welcome their neighbors to share in the Christmas spirit.

It was also a chance to show off Decatur’s history. The Christmas Tour of Homes features houses in the Albany and Old Decatur historic districts, Westminster Presbyterian Church, First Missionary Baptist Church, Frazier Park and the Old State Bank.

A new addition to the event this year was a luminary tour through Decatur City Cemetery. People were able to walk or drive through a live Nativity lit by more than 3,000 luminaries and 500 candles.

The Baker Foundation and other private donations covered most of the luminary tour’s roughly $5,000 cost, and tour designer deLoain Burgess said more than 30 volunteers worked to make the tour possible.

We hope the luminary tour becomes a permanent addition to the Tour of Homes, helping Decatur showcase not only the spirit of the season, but its long history.

Bicentennial celebrations climax

Speaking of history, more than a year of celebrations and events culminated this past Saturday with the 200th anniversary of Alabama becoming a state on Dec. 14, 1819. The event was marked in the state capital with parades, bands and speeches highlighting the state’s tumultuous past.

State Sen. Arthur Orr of Decatur was chairman of the official bicentennial celebration, and in his remarks this past weekend he expressed as well as anyone how Alabamians can be proud of their past while not being bound by it.

Orr said Alabama’s history is “marked by much that is good, but also scarred entirely too much by that which is not. ...

“Although history shaped who we are today, it does not control our future,” Orr said. “As we begin Alabama’s third century this very day, our future is in our hands.”

Orr spoke in a city that saw secession, segregation and civil rights. All are part of Alabama’s complex legacy, and they should not be forgotten even as the state strives to overcome its past sins.

Athens-Limestone library suffers more cuts

The Athens City Council last week joined the Limestone County Commission in cutting funding for the Athens-Limestone Public Library. Each cut its library appropriation by $30,000.

After the fact, county commissioners cited poor financial record-keeping on the part of the library as the main reason they cut funding, and that was also a reason cited last week by city council members.

Outgoing council president Harold Wales said the council has “some serious concerns about the financial management and operation of the library.”

There is no reason the library shouldn’t do a better job keeping track of its spending. Libraries are in the business of cataloging and keeping track of information, but both the commission and the City Council seem to be looking for an excuse to cut library funding. Cutting $60,000 from the library’s 2020 budget cannot help but impact resources and programs.

The library is audited more frequently than the state requires, and a new audit is already scheduled. City and county leaders could wait for the results before assuming the worst.
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